On She Goes

On The Road: 10 Best Work Spaces While Traveling

When you have to take the hustle with you.

Celeste Noche
Celeste Noche
August 1, 2017
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As a freelancer, I need to keep up with work while I’m traveling—even though an email-free trip would be heavenly. I don’t want to stay holed-up in my Airbnb, so I’m often looking for spots to work from while still being able to experience the place I’m visiting. Working while in transit, like at airports or during a long train ride, is a great way to make the most of my time on the road, but when I get to my destination, I need workspaces to stay on schedule. Inevitably, and especially while slow traveling, I spend a lot of time in coffee shops with Wi-Fi, snacks, and cute baristas—what’s not to love? But there are times when I don’t feel like being in a café, so I’ve got a list of the best temporary spaces—public or coworking—to get work done while on the road:

  1. Coworking Spaces — Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way. With more freelance and remote employees working from home, coworking spaces offer an office-like environment to promote more collaboration and social interaction. Usually coworking spaces will require a fee to use their facilities, so they aren’t my preference, but they’ll be shiny and design-y. My favorite part about coworking spaces is that you’re more likely to meet other creatives and possibly make new friends who are locals and can give you recommendations for when you’re not working.

The law school library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
photo by Celeste Noche

  1. Libraries — Nothing feels more like home to me than a library. Not only can you stay here for hours for free (aka without the pressure of buying something every hour to avoid stank eye from a barista), it’s also a great place to be around more members of the community. The library can also double as a great resource for information and events happening around town.
  2. College Campuses — I know, I know. We’re traveling to escape, to experience something new, maybe even to break away from school. But college campuses can be another way to experience life in a city through the lens of its students. You can set up shop in their bookstores, libraries, and food courts or sprawl out on a lawn. Check in with the college visitors center to see what’s available for you.
  3. Bars — It would also be amazing to take a break from my computer screen and see a wall of liquor and the promise of a bougie cocktail waiting for me. Although many bars aren’t open during the day, they’re still pretty slow and quiet when they first open in the late afternoon. Or maybe you want to be the mysterious stranger working in a loud bar in the middle of the night? You do you, baby girl!

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art offers complimentary wifi throughout the museum.
photo by Celeste Noche

  1. Museums — I was around San Francisco, sulking about not wanting to spend $5 on another cup of coffee that I didn’t even want just so I could sit somewhere and use the internet. Then I looked across the street and saw the new Museum of Modern Art—and it has Wi-Fi. Now all I want to do is work from museums and be surrounded by the most beautiful art. Can you imagine? You’re glued to your computer and when you need to take a break, you just look up and museum art is right in front of you? Not all museums have Wi-Fi throughout, but it’s becoming more common, so double-check before you go.
  2. Laundromats — This recommendation comes with a big “please look this up before you go” precaution. Most laundromats won’t have Wi-Fi, but there are a lot of newer laundromats that are hopping on the tech-convenience train. Look for hipster laundromats with Wi-Fi, snacks, and machines that take credit cards and sync to your phone to let you know they’re done. And if you run out of clean clothes while traveling? These laundromats aren’t a bad place to be stuck.

The Ace Hotel lobby in Portland, Oregon boasts free wifi and an old fashioned photo booth.
photo by Celeste Noche

  1. Hotel Lobbies — Don’t limit your hotel lobby hangs to after the after-party. Get in early from a flight? Need to hang out somewhere until you leave? Want to just pretend you’re a guest at a bougie hotel you can’t afford? Hotel lobbies can be a calming, quiet place to work, even with the light bustle of people coming and going. If the hotel doesn’t offer complimentary Wi-Fi, order a snack or beverage and they’ll be more likely to share it. 
  2. Malls — You may have to be strategic about finding available power outlets, but working from the mall, especially the food court, can offer a nice change of scenery. Get some work done while snacking on an Auntie Anne’s cinnamon sugar pretzel—need I say more? Added bonus: take a break from working with some great people watching.
  3. Gyms — Hear me out! Yes, I can see how this could be smelly and potentially the last place you want to be, but what if it’s also rad? Do your research ahead of time, and if the gym looks good, get yourself a day pass (or a free trial *wink wink*). Perhaps there’s a nice lobby or smoothie bar where you can set up shop, and then break up the monotony of your computer work between the elliptical machine, some yoga, and the sauna.
  4. Outside — Last but not least, check for free Wi-Fi outside. Recently, cities have been funding free Wi-Fi to the public. Imagine working from the banks of the Seine, while eating lunch at a hawker center, or in the middle of Central Park.